Behavioral Profiles: Use DISC to Predict and Adapt

Over the years, I have taught or sat through training sessions with thousands of people. Based on my experiences, I can unequivocally state that personality and leadership styles are the training topics that generate the most excitement and discussion among trainees, and the ones that inspire the most aha moments. Relatedly, the DISC profile is the single tool that I get the most positive feedback about – and the one that has had the most positive impact on people’s lives and careers.

This article, which is based on the DISC assessment that is offered through the Incident Prevention Institute (https://ip-institute.com), will explain the value of the assessment, what is involved in undergoing the assessment, what you will receive after completing the assessment, and how to use the assessment as a personal and professional development tool. It is worth noting that there are many useful leadership, personality and behavioral assessments available that are similar to our DISC assessment. I highly encourage you to research them and take at least one.

The DISC model of behavior was first proposed by psychologist William Moulton Marston and discussed in his book “Emotions of Normal People,” published in the 1920s. While Marston never created a related assessment, there are numerous DISC assessments available today. Whichever one you decide on, DISC assessments are practical profiling tools that are easy to use. They focus on patterns and intensity of observable behaviors and characteristics using scales in four different styles. An assessment is not complicated psychology or a measure of intelligence. DISC benefits you because it:

  • Provides you with a deeper understanding of yourself, including your emotions and tendencies.
  • Helps you easily identify and read other people and adapt to their needs and preferences.
  • Allows you to see yourself as you are perceived by others.
  • Gives you practical advice about how to relate to and interact with other styles.
  • Recommends a personalized development plan based on your specific profile.
  • Enhances your communication, improves your interactions and grows your relationships.
  • Identifies failure points for teams and assists you in assembling power teams.

The Four DISC Styles
The DISC styles are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious. There is no right or wrong style, and one style is no better than another. Each has its own strengths, tendencies and opportunities for growth, and each person is unique because of varying levels of intensity and how the styles interact with and influence each other.

People who exhibit dominance typically prefer a fast pace and task-oriented work. They demonstrate both direct and guarded behaviors and usually are assertive, decisive problem-solvers who seek control. D’s may need to work on empathy and patience. 

Those who exhibit influence enjoy a fast pace and are people oriented. They typically demonstrate direct and open behaviors. I’s also are persuasive encouragers who seek approval, but they may need to work on controlling their emotions and following through with commitments.

Individuals who fall under this style are people oriented and like a slower pace. They exhibit indirect and open behaviors. S’s usually are patient stabilizers who seek routine. They may need to work on being assertive and embracing change.

People who exhibit this style prefer a slower pace and are task oriented. They typically exhibit indirect and guarded behaviors. C’s are contemplative analyzers who seek correctness, but they may need to work on their decision-making skills and worrying less.

When you can identify your style and the style of another person, you also can identify potential tensions or conflicts between the styles in terms of pace, priorities and motivation. With an understanding of each style, you can then adapt to the other person’s needs and preferences. This helps to improve communication and enhance the quality of interactions.

Often, without realizing it, we wish people were perfect and that they were more like us. We sometimes assume that they are motivated by the same things we are, like to communicate the same way we do, work at the same pace and have the same priorities. That simply isn’t the case. People should always be treated equally but never the same. That’s why the DISC assessment is such a useful tool – because it helps you understand yourself and adapt to others.

You can use DISC without taking an assessment if you understand that people are different and that it’s critical to adapt to the needs of others to establish successful relationships. With that said, the DISC assessment we utilize takes less than 30 minutes to complete and provides you with a comprehensive and personalized report after completion. It is a fantastic tool for individuals and teams. The assessment helps people unlock their full potential by describing their general characteristics, adapted and natural styles, and behavioral patterns and tendencies. The report also provides practical guidance on adapting to others in different situations at work, in sales and service, in social settings and in learning environments.

With or without an assessment – and whether they realize they are doing it or not – successful people use DISC to adapt to others in their communications, leadership and interactions.

About the Author: David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM, is the director of professional development for Utility Business Media’s Incident Prevention Institute (https://ip-institute.com). He has extensive experience and expertise in leadership, human performance, safety and operations. McPeak is passionate about personal and professional development and believes that intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are key to success. He also is an advanced certified practitioner in DISC, emotional intelligence, the Hartman Value Profile, learning styles and motivators.

About Frontline Fundamentals: Frontline Fundamentals topics are derived from the Incident Prevention Institute’s popular Frontline training program (https://frontlineutilityleader.com). Frontline covers critical knowledge, skills and abilities for utility leaders and aligns with the Certified Utility Safety Professional exam blueprint.


Webinar on Behavioral Profiles
May 13, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Visit https://frontlineutilityleader.com for more information.

Series Navigation<< April-May 2020 Q&A

Frontline Fundamentals


David McPeak, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM, CUSP, is the director of professional development for Utility Business Media’s Incident Prevention Institute (www.ip-institute.com). His experience includes operations management, safety and training roles. McPeak holds multiple safety and training certifications and has received numerous awards. He also has served as chairman of Task Team One of the OSHA ET&D Partnership, as a member of Incident Prevention’s editorial advisory board and as a member of the North Carolina Apprenticeship Council. Reach him at david@utilitybusinessmedia.com.

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